fourth way® gurdjieff ouspensky school navigation arrow pointing right Principles navigation arrow pointing rightNecessity of Aim

necessity of aim


In life we make aims which give us direction and without them we are aimless and going nowhere. For example we may want a certain job or to get certain qualifications or live in a certain place. In order to attain these aims it is necessary to make sacrifices as well as efforts to attain it.

In some ways aim in the Work is similar to life aims in that effort and sacrifice are needed, but in other ways it is not the same because a work aim is in a different direction from life and in a way is against life. For example, as a life aim we may want a particular job because we think it will bring us the success and recognition we've wanted all our lives. This kind of aim feeds personality which is turned towards life, whereas aim in the Work is about making personality passive, a servant rather than a master.

One of the aims of this work is to change our level of being and in order to do this the first aim in this work is self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge you cannot make aims about yourself in relation to changing your being. Real self-knowledge is different from imaginary ideas and pictures of the kind of people we are and what we think we are able to do and can only come from a lot of personal self-observation. This means we must see how we speak, act, when we have negative emotions, when and what we are most identified with, when we lie and our particular forms of imagination. In other words we have to observe the things that keep us asleep and prevent us from awakening.

Only when we have observed ourselves, observed things to work on in our being, can we make personal aim to work against what we have seen in ourselves. For example, you notice that you often become negative when the train is late and an unstoppable inner dialogue starts about how inefficient the transport system is, etc, and through which you lose energy. A personal aim will be to separate yourself internally from it and not say I to it. From a life perspective we may not see any reason to resist this kind of negative emotion and may feel totally justified about it, but from a work perspective we are trying to awaken and therefore we are trying to avoid poisoning ourselves with negative emotions.

Aim is On Different Scales

Aim is on different scales. On a very big scale aim is to awaken from sleep, to attain inner liberation, to become conscious. However, many smaller aims are necessary in order to reach the bigger aim. For example, on the side of knowledge, personal aim means familiarising oneself with the work ideas as it is only through new knowledge can we begin to think in a new way. From thinking in a new way we can see what is wrong with us from a work perspective and from this we can make a work aim. On the side of being, personal aim means to observe ourselves according to the knowledge of the work and to apply it to ourselves.

Aims of Being

Here are some suggestions of aim:

Where Aim Comes From

Aim can come from right or wrong places in us. Aim may be right and come from a wrong place or aim may be wrong and come from a right place.

When an aim comes from a small mechanical parts of centres, where there is little or no attention or when it is scattered, it comes from a wrong place. It must come from higher parts of centres where the quality of attention is different. There are three centres---intellectual, emotional and instinctive-moving---and each centre has three parts corresponding to the individual centres themselves---intellectual part, emotional part, and instinctive-moving part. In the moving parts exists this scattered attention which wanders from thing to thing, for example what you have read in the newspapers, conversations you have heard which come and go. We cannot make aim from these parts because aim must not come and go. The ideas of the work are too big for small parts of centres to take in and it is necessary to use higher parts of centres to understand this work.

To get into higher---that is more conscious---parts of centres, the act of attention is necessary which requires effort. In these higher parts we can see several things together and not only one at a time and they therefore can be used to observe ourselves. Self-observation leads to becoming more conscious of ourselves and from this, aim becomes clearer. So to make aim through mechanical or moving parts of centres is useless and it is important to think about where we make our aim from. However, we cannot suddenly make aim permanent, i.e. suddenly decide that we will not be negative again just because we have heard it is the thing to do if we are following this work, because we will not understand anything about our aim. We have to first make a smaller aim to try not to express them which helps us to observe them better. Then we realise that if we waste so much energy on being negative that we have none left for happiness, for example. Then we see that we do not have the energy and attention to get into higher parts of centres because we waste it on negative emotions. When we have understood this we are in a position to make a more permanent aim about our negative emotions which will come from the right place in us.

Superficial Aim and Real Aim

When we make aim we often do not take into consideration how difficult it will be to keep it in view of the different events that may happen to us. We expect we will be able to travel in a straight line and reach our goal. Therefore, when our aim is superficial and made in a moment of enthusiasm it is usually useless and leads nowhere.

What is a superficial aim? It is one that is turned towards external life and which has behind it some personal advantage, for example merit, praise from other people, that you will be better thought of etc. In the Bible, the Christ says: `Let not they left hand know what thy right hand doeth.' Matthew 6.3. According to the language of parables `left' means the weak side or personality,and `right' means the deeper more real part of ourselves. So if we make an aim from personality for some advantage, we will not be making it from our real side. For this reason, real aim must be something that is not quite put in words, something you don't tell your false personality and you must not expect to achieve it immediately. In this way we will not become disappointed by the constant breaking of it or when it appears that we are going in a different direction from what we intended. The most important thing with real aim is that it cannot be reached directly but it is like a sailing ship at sea which has to tack this way and that according to the wind to reach its goal.

So to begin to have a real aim we must have made aims to know that we cannot keep them so that we can see the force of resistance. Real aim comes from an emotional perception of something you dislike in yourself and you wish to change eventually and can only arise from long self-observation and valuation of the work. It depends on a certain integrity of feeling that persists in spite of downfalls and as a result we need a lot of patience with real aim.